Ask any mother what she wants more than anything in the world, and she’ll likely say, “for my children to be safe, healthy, and happy.” For mothers living in extreme poverty, this gift is hard to come by … especially now with the threat of COVID-19. But people like Gertrude Jima (pictured right) are at the forefront of giving moms what they want most – access to knowledge and resources that empower them to care for their children.
Gertrude is one of 220,000 community health workers (CHWs) trained and equipped by World Vision. On average, each CHW is responsible for supporting 50 households, or 300 people. During regular home visits, they:
- Give pregnant women critical health information on how to care for themselves and their babies
- Educate moms on preparing more nutritious meals with locally available and affordable foods, to reduce malnutrition
- Diagnose and treat the most common causes of death for children under 5 ― like pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea ― right on the spot
For mothers in remote areas, the nearest health clinic can be miles away. When their children are sick and they can’t make it to the clinic, community health workers can bring the clinic to them. And this may mean the difference between life and death.
"Rhoda is my hero"
In rural Zambia, Doreen has two children ― Malita and Blessing. Doreen says, “Rhoda, the community health worker, is my hero. She has been on my side. She helped me get to the clinic. She taught me how to breastfeed correctly and she helps me with things around the home, like bathing the baby, collecting water, and cleaning the house. When Malita was 7 or so, I noticed she was losing weight. I joined the nutrition group that Rhoda leads. I learned about nutritious foods I could prepare to improve her health.”
“What Rhoda has taught me is so valuable. I don’t want to keep this information to myself. I share it with other pregnant mothers. Just as she has saved my life and my baby’s, I can also save lives through the things I am learning from her. If we can have more health workers we don’t have to fear what has happened before ―where we see mothers and children die.”
Watch Doreen and Rhoda’s story here
Community Health Workers on the frontlines of COVID-19
World Vision has launched the largest humanitarian response in our 70-year history to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on vulnerable children and their families. Over the next 18 months, our global response aims to reach 72 million people ― half of them children ― in more than 70 countries.
As part of this effort, we are training and equipping our community health workers to teach people about the coronavirus and how to prevent the spread and keep themselves and their family members safe including handwashing, cough hygiene, and physical distancing.
What you can do
If you’d like to help us train and equip more community health workers like Gertrude and Rhoda, please consider giving to our Mother and Child Health programs, or our global COVID-19 response. No matter which you choose, you will be helping empower moms in extreme poverty. Mothers who want what every mother wants … for her children to be safe, healthy, and happy.
May God bless and protect you and your loved ones on Mother’s Day and in the coming days.